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Friend using disablist word to self-describe. Is she BU? And WWYD? (offensive word in OP)

(102 Posts)
GoringBit Sat 23-Jan-16 15:00:05

Not a TAAT, but prompted by a thread about offensive words, which I don't want to derail.

I've known this friend for a few years; she has various acute health problems, and is registered disabled. We get on well, meet for coffee a couple of times a months, and pursue a shared interest together.

I enjoy her company, but she repeatedly uses a really ugly, disablist word, referring to herself as a xxx. I'm not going to use the word here, as I think it could be identifying (I doubt she uses MN, but it's possible), but it's a variant of spastic. I can guarantee she'll use it at least once whenever I see her (she also uses it in front of my DP and a mutual friend), and if it's a full day together, maybe six times or more. I hate it, it's horrible, and the first time she used it, I commented that it wasn't a great word to use about herself, but she shrugged it off and carried on. I've mentioned it, very briefly, to our mutual friend, who thinks it's done to get a reaction, and that I should ignore it, as she does.

To avoid drip feeding, friend's disability is related to her illnesses, not CP. She is in very poor health; without going into details, she is unlikely to live until the end of this year.

I get that people can self-identify, and I understand why some people reclaim derogatory words, but I just feel that she is BU to use this word, because it's not hers, if that makes sense. That said, I don't feel comfortable about commenting on it again, particularly as her health is so poor, so I've been ignoring it, but am I BU in letting her use this word?

I'm probably overthinking it, but would be interested to know what others think and what, if anything, you would say or do.

StrawberryDelight Sat 23-Jan-16 15:02:07

I think it's impossible to give an opinion without knowing what the word is tbh.

Are you sure that it's generally a disabalist word? Or maybe just a word that you don't like?

StrawberryDelight Sat 23-Jan-16 15:04:15

I don't see how it's identifying either tbh - if it's generally known then she's hardly the only person likely to use or have used it. The rest of your post is probably more identifying that the word itself.

thelouisee Sat 23-Jan-16 15:04:32

I don't know, I don't think YABU but I occasionally refer in anger to my "crippled body". I wouldn't dream of using this sort of terminology casualty or towards anyone else.

ProudAS Sat 23-Jan-16 15:09:07

There's a difference between using it to describe yourself and as a derogatory term for someone else.

Lockheart Sat 23-Jan-16 15:10:50

I think when talking about themselves people can use whatever terminology they like.

When talking about other people, not so much.

EponasWildDaughter Sat 23-Jan-16 15:11:09

am I BU in letting her use this word?

Personally i wouldn't attempt to control what anyone with less than a year to live calls themselves.

Shakirasma Sat 23-Jan-16 15:12:46

If she had CP I it would be a more complicated issue, though I would be very uncomfortable.

However, as she hasn't then regardless of what disability she does have she is absolutely out of order IMO.

TheMouseThatRoared Sat 23-Jan-16 15:14:22

She sounds like she is in a bad place. If she only has a year of life left them I would just carry on ignoring it.

GoringBit Sat 23-Jan-16 15:15:55

Thanks all. I thought it might be identifying because I hadn't heard it before, though I'd heard a word very much like it, so really just because of its (to me) unusualness.

Personally i wouldn't attempt to control what anyone with less than a year to live calls themselves.

Cutting through the overthinking, this is how I feel about it; I'm not judging at all, I think I just needed to get it off my chest, as I don't want to talk about it with anyone in real life.

OurBlanche Sat 23-Jan-16 15:15:58

I used to work in a specialist school setting, for young adults. They used to go out drinking and had 'team purses' marked Spacs and Biffs.

You couldn't really argue with it as they did have those disabilities. But it was uncomfortable for people who were unused to meeting them. They did take some delight in discomfiting the 'straights'.

Maybe your friend uses the term to 'get in first' to help diffuse the hurt to herself. Or maybe her condition is caused by spasticity of the muscles and (if I have interpreted your OP properly) she is just being factual!

AtrociousCircumstance Sat 23-Jan-16 15:16:31

She has less than a year to live. I don't think it's worth tackling this issue with her. She just needs your continuing support right now.

mommy2ash Sat 23-Jan-16 15:16:38

It's not your responsibility to police her use of language particularly when she is using this word to describe herself and especially when her health problems are so severe she is likely to die this year. She obviously has bigger concerns than what you think of a word she uses

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 23-Jan-16 15:17:10

There is a difference in using an "offensive" word to self identify and using that word to describe others.

OurBlanche Sat 23-Jan-16 15:17:15

Ooch! I missed the life limit... ignore it. Smile, be nice, try not to hear it as you would if anyone else said it!

VaJayJay Sat 23-Jan-16 15:18:04

Sorry, can I ask what CP means?

GahBuggerit Sat 23-Jan-16 15:18:34

yabu to pull her up on it purely because if it was me and my friend who would be dead by the end of the year, id say shes earnt thd right to call HERSELF anything she wants, and i think id be more upset at the thought that everytime i saw her its a step closer to losing her. maybe its her coping mechanism, who knows, but i think considering shes dying giving her grief over a word shes using aboutvherself seems a little distasteful to me.

so no, yanbu to turn a blind eye to it considering she wont be around to use it much longer, bigger picture an all that......

mrssmith79 Sat 23-Jan-16 15:19:00

She has less than a year to live? And you're considering reprimanding her cos you don't like a word she uses to describe herself?
If she was a friend of mine I'd be moving heaven and earth to make her last few months alive (death's a permanent condition you know) happy and stress free. Put your selfishness aside.

goodnightdarthvader1 Sat 23-Jan-16 15:19:23

If she's dying, I think she's got more important things to worry about.

BackInTheRealWorld Sat 23-Jan-16 15:20:14

She has less than a year to live and you want to make a big deal about her referring to herself and her disabilities by using an offensive word for her disabilities?
I think she can use which ever word she likes for her situation with a fucking cunting bastard thrown in. And maybe it is for a reaction as your other friend says...but you know what, if it's attention she is after then so what. It's less than a years worth of attention she can get anyway.

StrawberryDelight Sat 23-Jan-16 15:20:44

If you'd not heared the word before, how do you know it's disablist?

YeOldeTrout Sat 23-Jan-16 15:24:21

First I thought ...Overthinking it.

2nd thought: just tell her it's an ugly word & you understand why she's so angry but it's painful for you to hear her call herself such an ugly word, so please don't use it when you're around.

tbh, if I were disabled now or as a teen, with enough anger attached to it, I'd be using every rude word going, too.

Shakirasma Sat 23-Jan-16 15:25:53

What Dione said, if my son makes a mistake with something is it ok for him to declare himself a r*****? No it's fucking not, and it's not ok for anyone to use the word we are discussing here, especially when they don't even have the condition the hideous insult evolved from.

MorrisZapp Sat 23-Jan-16 15:26:41

Reminds me of the time my mum was loudly disapproving of a friends mother who was demanding San Pellegrino water from her death bed, because San Pellegrino is owned by Nestlé.

I have decided that my last meal on this earth will be Shreddies, San Pellegrino and a chunky Kit Kat. Which I shall eat in front of my mum with my best 'go on, I dare you' face on.

TinklyLittleLaugh Sat 23-Jan-16 15:27:39

She's reclaiming the word that's all. If she's using something like "spaz" then that is a derogatory term applied generally to disabled people, not just people with CP and personally, I would say it was "her" word to reclaim.

I'm disabled myself and I get why people do this (and also why some black people have reclaimed n*** and gay people "queer") but I know lots of my non disabled friends would be very uncomfortable with it, so I can see your point of view.

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